One of the most popular misconceptions about smartphones is that they are safe. There’s a very good reason for this – the manufacturers and operators have gone to extreme lengths to make sure you think that. Otherwise, the smartphone revolution wouldn’t have taken off the way it has. After all – why would you want another reason to compromise your data?
In actual fact, however, with one phone being stolen or lost every 12 seconds in the UK and viruses on the rise, there’s a real risk of losing sensitive information. Think about it, essentially, a Winmo or Android phone is essentially a mini computer. And yet 81% of users don’t lock their phones. Most don’t know what cookies are, and if they do don’t realise they are being left on their phone.
Leave your phone in a taxi, and you’re leaving behind, names, phone numbers, documents, perhaps even bank details. And you’re leaving it all accessible. Even if the IMEI number gets blocked, the data is still there.
BlackBelt Smartphone Defence is a new security suite that is designed to solve this problem. The first product, launched this week, is the anti-theft program. Coolsmartphone.com was invited to Churchill’s War Rooms (a secure underground bunker – cute, huh?) for the launch.
The company are so confident that their product is hack-proof that they are offering a Desire HD – all you’ve got to do is hack into it. More of that later. But is it worth the effort?
The difficulty with reviewing security products is that you don’t really know till you need them. However, let’s go over the principles….
You install Blackbelt AntiTheft. It’s available for Android 1.5 and above, Windows Mobile 6.5 and below, and Symbian with a commitment to other platforms in the future. Select a password of up to 16 digits. And forget it. In our tests it has virtually no impact on memory or battery. Nice.
So you’ve had a drunken night out and lost your phone. It’s got some compromising pictures of the missus, and all your bank details. Silly billy.
Fortunately, you’ve set up BlackBelt AntiTheft. Simply text your password to your phone. That’s it. It’ll lock your phone, and the only way to unlock it is to enter that password again on the handset.
But the data is still there. You block your SIM card. The thief has no choice but to change to their own SIM. And at that point, BlackBelt kicks into life. Firstly it sends an SMS message to up to 3 nominated numbers, with the cell location of the phone, followed by a GPS fix as soon as one is available – all silently and without locking the phone. We’d really like to see some integration with map applications here, but we’re assured that it will be in future releases.
Finally, if you’ve resigned yourself to not getting the phone back, it’s time to instruct the phone to wipe everything. You can wipe contacts, mail, personal data and even your entire memory card. This grates on me a little, because it essentially means that the thief wins – but if it means your data is safe (you HAVE been backing it up to the cloud, haven’t you?).
BlackBelt are a new incarnation of a company that have been in the field for a while, and this is the first in a series of security products available across platforms. Before the end of the year, there will be anti-virus and anti-spam. Next year, there will be DataShredding, ID Authentication and, perhaps most exciting of all, Back-Up and Restore that works across platforms. We’re quietly impressed with Blackbelt Defence and hope to bring you the rest of the products as they arrive.
Although it’s clear that the product is of more interest to enterprise, there’s an argument to say that everyone needs something like this on their phone for peace of mind. To this end, BlackBelt are offering their products for free to students for the duration of their studies.
We like BlackBelt. It’s a simple idea with a vision and an understanding that the phone-wars haven’t been won yet. You may want an Android today and a WP7 tomorrow. But BlackBelt will go with you and are committed to cross-platform compatibility. It’s not without its faults. We’d love to see notifications on the menu bar (though some would argue that it would nullify the “invisibility” of the app) and some sort of phone finder – after all – if you find it, you don’t need to wipe it.
The killer “wipe” feature sets it apart from free solutions like Lookout – and bodes well for future development by Blackbelt.
You might think you don’t need security on your phone – just remember that when you lose your phone next time. I’ve lost over 50 in the last 15 years, and for that reason alone, it makes perfect sense to me!
Link – BlackBelt Defence